The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Board Stalemates on Signatures; Anti-Affirmative Action Ballot Initiative Moves to Courts
Feature Story by Tyler Lewis - 7/19/2005The Michigan State Board of Canvassers deadlocked (2-2) July 19 in its consideration of certification of the so-called "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative" (MCRI), which has been championed by affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly. The question of certification will now be determined by the Michigan Court of Appeals, which is expected to rule on the issue in the coming weeks.
Connerly is best known as the businessman and former University of California regent who successfully led anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives in California (1996) and Washington (1998). Connerly and anti-affirmative action proponents were galvanized by the Grutter decision, which upheld the consideration of race as one of many factors in higher education admissions, and switched their focus to Michigan.
Connerly initially aimed to qualify the initiative for the November 2004 ballot. However, several months before the election, a Michigan judge held that the anti-affirmative action initiative was "blatantly in direct conflict" with the Michigan Constitution and did not fully inform voters of its effect. In the wake of legal challenges and a lack of resources resulting in a failure to garner the requisite number of signatures, Connerly postponed his 2004 petition drive, vowing to try again for the 2006 ballot.
One United Michigan (OUM), a diverse coalition of mainstream Michigan organizations representing women's groups, educators, business groups, religious organizations, racial and ethnic minority groups, and labor, has developed a public education campaign to educate voters on the benefits of affirmative action and equal opportunity programs, and the potential consequences of Connerly's initiative.
"Connerly's crusade to end affirmative action in Michigan failed in 2004," said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the nation's oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition. "And we urge the Michigan courts to reject it again. The people of Michigan will not allow an initiative that rolls back opportunity for women and minorities to become part of their state Constitution."